Dont laugh

Ok, I might be barking up thw wqrong tree entirely here, but I’m not at all familiar with these kits, so I thought I’d throw it out there.

I’m wondering if this is possible in with an Arduino USB kit:

It has 6 analog inputs right? Can I attach sensors to those inputs and read the results via software on my PC? I know this isn’t typically what the USB connection is for, rather it’s used to put your code onto the chip, but is it possible to read sensor data from this board via PC software via the USB connection?

If not…does anyone know of the best/easiet/cheapest way to do this? I basically am trying to build a rig that has 10-16 sensors (pots mostly) and I need to monitor their levels on a PC(not necessarily in real time). And if someone is about to say ADC circuits and a serial port, can you also point me toward a kit/hobby style solution that doesn’t cost 200$+ ?

Yes you can send and receive serial data from a Arduino to a PC via the USB connector. That is a very common application and if you search around the site you should have no problem finding something to get you started.


Great, thanks for the quick reply Lefty. You wouldn’t believe what some people are charging for PCI boards with only 16 analog inputs. Some of them were like 600-700$. When I found the Arduino site I was really hoping this was the answer I was looking for.

I’ll take a closer look around and see what I can find. Thanks again!

If you need a description of how to read 16 pots and send the values to a PC let me know. I have done that, including the required analog multiplexer to expand the number of analog ins on Arduino. I even have a (simple (read primitive)) PCB layout.

It’s not very difficult, or expencieve.

What software is going to be listening for the pot values on the PC ?

MikMo - I would really appreciate that. I’m setting up a series of dials, and looking over my design I might want as many as 20 inputs (all the same range of resistance values), so whatever schematics or plans you have would be great.
The software on the PC is a custom control panel I wrote that can read from a variety of data sources. What software does one typically use to communicate with an Arduino through the USB? Do they give you a dll or some sort of interface to facilitate this?


Do they give you a dll or some sort of interface to facilitate this?

The Arduino USB interface is seen as a simple comm port on the PC side, so any PC programming or script language that can talk to a comm port can communitcate with a Arduino program.


Lefty - that’s perfect. I’ve already written a C# serial communications module for this project because I’m controlling servos through an SSC-32 servo controller via my serial port. Hopefully I can reuse that.

Note that there can be a big difference between a $600 “data acquisition board” (usually with some bundled software) and a $30 Ardunino setup. Usually in precision (Arduino has 10 bits, but it’s only as accurate as the reference voltage (which is usually just the power supply), protection and signal conditioning on the inputs (Arduino has none), and “quality” of the associated software (no “click this button and get a real-time frequency domain plot of the input signal” for arduino. Unless you write it!)

If your main purpose is to read some dials and some “low resolution” sensors, the arduino will probably do just fine. But it won’t ALWAYS replace a $600 data acquisition board…

(and my understanding is that this is exactly one of the purposes of Arduino; to replace those $600 boards for the MANY times they aren’t really needed.)

That’s exactly what I was hoping for. This is just for a little hobby project, and I wasn’t going to justify a lot of money. Also, with the Arduino, after I’m done reading pot data, I can mess around with actually using it as a microcontroller. BONUS!

While I’m here, does anyone recommend a good starter book for Arduino? MAKE has one on their site for 12 bucks, and they seem to know their stuff, but does anyone recommend something else? Also, a good starter kit package for this kind of thing that includes all the pieces?(chip, board, cables, etc.)

There are various items in the Playground that will show you how to easily and cheaply extend the number of I/O’s to the Arduino too.